Back to School Stress

This time last year, I identified the common back-to-school stress anxiety as an annual challenge for parents in households of school-age children.

However, the reaction of some children to the prospect of a new school term can often be traced to a personal experience, sometimes quite obscure.

In Canada, I once knew a young schoolboy, Sammy, who was somewhat small for his age and who became frightened and withdrawn after watching an ice-hockey match, where another small classmate was knocked backwards on to the ice by two much bigger boys, and spent the rest of that term on crutches. By the time Sammy, himself, moved into the age-group for ice-hockey, he was dreading it, and I wondered if his mother was going to call on my counselling skills. Fortunately he chose that short period to grow about 12 centimetres in just one summer, and the problem resolved itself!

Another case originally had me baffled. An 8-year old boy, Rashid, was due to move up into a form that occupied a classroom with a huge abstract sculpture that looked like a dragon. One of the teachers jokingly pretended that whoever ended the term as bottom of the class would be eaten up by this terrible dragon. Rashid could not get this out of his mind, but was afraid to tell anyone, for fear of looking silly. So he kept it to himself, and the anxiety began to affect him badly. It took me three counselling sessions to identify the cause of his fear, and to explain how it was unfounded, but I have not forgotten how situations and events that although ordinary to adults, may by extraordinary and sometimes frightening to children.

Back-to-school stress in very young pupils may stem from all manner of causes that have little relationship to the obvious challenges to their talent.

In the case of older school students, the most usual cause of anxiety is those all-important examinations, and I can’t remember when the British newspapers have been so dominated by stories about the pressure on students to excel and gain entrance to university.

Hi-tech De-stressors

One of those stories actually caused me a little anxiety, as I wondered, not for the first time, whether my profession would the next thing threatened to be replaced by a computer!

You may remember that I once described in this column, a hi-tech stress-relief aid that could soothe you into an optimal 20-minute power-nap inside a type of space-capsule and then woke you gently with a blend of lights and vibration. (First reports were impressive indeed.)

Now it seems that ‘do-it-yourself’ stress relief to relieve stress symptoms may be on the way for school-students too.

One 16-year old was clearly taking his exams too seriously. In his experience, extra effort had always been rewarded with better exam results, and now at the crucial end-of-term examination time, he just couldn’t relax. His mental dynamo kept turning far into the night, and his sleep-patterns were ruined. Unfortunately, so was his school performance.

Then someone told his mother about a portable hi-tech de-stressor, based simply on one pair of stereo headphones and ‘visual stimulation’ glasses. The synchronised patterns of light and sound quickly induce a calm mental state that replicates meditation and helps you sleep soundly, as well as improving concentration and memory. It made all the difference, and the boy sailed through his exams.

Key points about back-to-school stress

  • Children may have personalised reasons for dreading a new school school
  • Older students often face stress symptoms before important exams
  • New hi-tech de-stressors are showing good early results

Do you know any horror-stories about school exam pressure?

Or have you seen unexplained stress symptoms in the very young at back-to-school time?

Do leave your comment in our blog.

[Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News]

Book Keynote Motivational Speaker, BBC guest-broadcaster and best-selling Author, Carole Spiers in person for your next conference for charismatic, high-impact workplace stress management presentations and organisational change strategies.  See Carole live http://bit.ly/TUWbX

Or check-out our latest ideas about stress help, instant acces to stress reduction products http://bit.ly/FjL5L and stress management training aimed to reduce stress and delivered to blue-chip clients from IBM to Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company in UK, Dubai, UAE and worldwide at www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

Contact Carole  for a FREE stress management strategies consultation – Tel:   +44 (0) 20 8954 1593 or email info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk.    She is dedicated to supporting your long-term growth through talent retention rooted in effective stress management.

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Stress Management Techniques: Business Networking and Social Behaviour

A good business network group is very like an elite social circle. It can open important doors, but also have them closed in our face. It provides opportunities to impress people of distinction, but also presents the risk of offending them, and perhaps even being removed from future invitation lists.

All the many books and lectures about networking are concentrated on encouraging involvement and getting closer  –  the strategies of joining these circles in the first place, and then the tactics of how to cultivate a good contact with a client or supplier.

However, the issue of how to exit politely from an encounter, seems rarely to be discussed, although this is the other half of the picture. You can’t have engagement without disengagement. You gain the attention of a particular person only when their last conversation has finished.

The people most aware of this are those somewhat over-ambitious networkers who set themselves targets like taking twenty business-cards home and securing six verbal commitments to talk further. I happen to think that their approach is rather too aggressive, and that the spirit of the ‘charm offensive’ may register unfavourably on a chosen target.

But there still does have to be some rationing of that 1-to-1 attention, quite apart from the delicate issue of how to disengage from the person who is clearly not going to be a useful contact  –  similar to finishing an unpromising interview with an early close.

Sometimes, there is a complete misunderstanding of a situation  –  as when a London advertising copy-writer once presented his portfolio to a foreign client whose English was not fluent. Only after half-an-hour did it become clear that the client thought the copy-writer was talking about the legal ‘copyrighting’ of the material. In this instance, there was clearly no point in continuing, and it was necessary to exit politely.

A usual routine is to invent an excuse to exit an unsatisfactory conversation – but then you might have to leave the meeting/party completely, and go home!

Accompanied
It is better to always remember that you are a guest at a social function, and that mixing with others is normal and essential. So, for example, your conversation with that distinguished contact need not strictly be 1-to-1. A third party, perhaps a shy or passive type, may be quite interested in hearing your conversation, and in any case, nothing you say at these functions should be entirely confidential. Also, the first impression you make is important and, if favourable, can gain you easy admittance to larger, more important groups in the room.

In fact, it is often worth approaching an individual or a group, already accompanied by someone you know. If the group is bigger than perhaps three or four, it is quite acceptable for you to listen respectfully for a minute or two, before slipping discreetly away.

It is always important to remember you’re a guest. This is an area where professionalism and good manners touch hands. By helping to initiate the mixing and introduction between people, you will be regarded as an asset by your hosts, and probably be asked back, maybe to an even more exclusive networking event, next time.

Key points about professional business networking

  • The flexibility of a larger group is often preferable to  just 1-to-1
  • Your hosts will approve if you encourage mixing and introduction
  • Networking advice seldom touches upon diplomatic exit strategies
  • Ever had trouble exiting from a networking conversation?

    Did you have to fake a pretext for saying good-bye? Or has someone else embarrassed you with an abrupt departure?

    Leave your comment in the column below.

     

    [Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News]

    Book Keynote Motivational Speaker, BBC guest-broadcaster and best-selling Author, Carole Spiers in person for your next conference for charismatic, high-impact workplace stress management presentations and organisational change strategies.  See Carole live http://bit.ly/TUWbX

    Or check-out our latest ideas about stress help, instant acces to stress reduction products http://bit.ly/FjL5L and stress management services aimed to reduce stress and delivered to blue-chip clients from IBM to Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company in UK, Dubai, UAE and worldwide at www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

    Contact Carole  for a FREE stress management strategies consultation – Tel:   +44 (0) 20 8954 1593  or email info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk.    She is dedicated to supporting your long-term growth through talent retention rooted in effective stress management.

    Listen

    Stress Help: Managing Aggression in Meetings

    Business people in Dubai, invariably identified as a meeting-point, and a melting pot, between Eastern and Western business cultures, might be interested in some recent workplace stress research from California, on the west coast of the United States.

    A group of American students at the University of Berkeley were divided into those with a European background and those with an Asian background, and told to try to sell a product online, making a point of bargaining hard on the price and also on the warranty period offered. Unbeknown to them, the buyer was told to display anger during this haggling routine on the price asked for and offered.

    There was a sharp difference evident between the reactions of the two groups. The Europeans made significantly more concessions when the buyer displayed anger, whilst the Asians made considerably fewer compromises within a similar negotiation.

    Interestingly, there was a second experiment, where the same students were told whether or not aggressive tactics were acceptable during negotiations. This time, the Asians made more concessions when told that they were acceptable, and Europeans made fewer concessions when told that such tactics were unacceptable. In other words, they were readily adapting to the relevant business culture.

    Of course, we have always known that Eastern business meetings are subject to more formalised rituals, and that any loss-of-face is difficult to accept. But although anger management is an important part of stress management training, it is not quite true to say that aggressive behaviour should never be used.

    Welcoming Anger
    Early in my career, I worked with a man who had originally been trained in the insurance business, where the boardroom culture was based on professional control and gravitas, and aggressive behaviour was always avoided. By the time I knew him, he had joined an advertising agency, where he was ridiculed for his conventional management style, and had to learn to adapt.

    Apparently, advertising clients welcomed aggressive behaviour at meetings, and the agency took care to rehearse these in full theatrical style. Clients generally felt that such aggressiveness was good. It meant that the agency team was deeply absorbed in the product, and had strong feelings about it. It also marked them out as executives of a certain calibre and character  –  willing to think experimentally, fight their corner, take risks. The whole performance was meant to mirror the bold and the unconventional, in other words the spirit of good advertising. Clearly a conventional meeting would not only have left them bored and dissatisfied, but would suggest that the advertising that came out of it would also lack drama and interest.

    There is no doubt that this entrepreneurial style has spread through many industries and professions in the West, where structured formality in meetings has been overtaken by a more relaxed, unstructured and colourful methodology of motivating salespeople, and also clients/ customers. Meanwhile, we are seeing the huge ascendancy of both China and India as the new super-states of the 21st century, who will be able to enforce their own boardroom traditions even more strongly on Western clients and colleagues.

    Anger management training will therefore be needed for many executives, not because they’re living in a stressed state, but because it will be an essential boardroom skill  –  part of their Eastern travel checklist, no different from sun-cream or malaria pills.

    Key points about Anger Management

    East and West react differently to anger at business meetings

    In the West, solemn formality is less acceptable in the boardroom

    Executives will need to adapt to the anger-free Eastern culture

    Ever seen someone lose their temper in the boardroom?  Was it taken as a disgraceful loss of control? Or was it welcomed as a sign of strength and independence?

    It would be good to hear from you and leave your comment in the comments column.

    [Reprinted with the kind permission of Gulf News]

    Book Keynote Motivational Speaker, BBC guest-broadcaster and best-selling Author, Carole Spiers in person for your next conference for charismatic, high-impact workplace stress management presentations and organisational change strategies.  See Carole live http://bit.ly/TUWbX

    Or check-out our latest ideas about stress help, instant acces to stress reduction products http://bit.ly/FjL5L and stress management services aimed to reduce stress and delivered to blue-chip clients from IBM to Abu Dhabi Marine Operating Company in UK, Dubai, UAE and worldwide at www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk

    Contact Carole  for a FREE stress management strategies consultation – Tel:   +44 (0) 20 8954 1593  or email info@carolespiersgroup.co.uk.    She is dedicated to supporting your long-term growth through talent retention rooted in effective stress management.

    Listen